St Joseph by Pope Francis

 

Joseph 9We look to Joseph as the model educator, who watches over and accompanies Jesus as he grows “in wisdom, age and grace”, as the Gospel says. He was not Jesus’ father: the father of Jesus was God, but he was a father to Jesus, he was a father to Jesus in order to help him grow. And how did he help him grow? In wisdom, age and grace.

Let us begin with age, which is the most natural dimension, physical and psychological growth. Joseph together with Mary, cared for Jesus above all from this point of view, that is he “raised” him, taking care that he lacked nothing he needed for healthy development. Let us not forget that guarding faithfully over the Child’s life also entailed the Flight to Egypt, the harsh experience of living as refugees — Joseph was a refugee with Mary and Jesus — so as to escape the threat of Herod. Then, once they had returned home and were settled in Nazareth, there was a long period in Jesus’ life spent with his family. In those years Joseph instructed Jesus in his work, and Jesus learned to be a carpenter with his father Joseph. Thus Joseph raised Jesus.

Let us move to the second dimension of his education: “wisdom”. Joseph was for Jesus the example and the teacher of the wisdom that is nourished by the Word of God. We could ponder how Joseph formed the little Jesus to listen to the Sacred Scriptures, above all by accompanying him on Saturday to the Synagogue in Nazareth. Joseph accompanied Jesus so that he would listen to the Word of God in the Synagogue.

And lastly, the dimension of “grace. St Luke always says of Jesus: “the favour of God was upon him” (2:40). Here, of course, the role reserved to St Joseph is more limited than it was in the area of age and wisdom. But it would be a grave error to think that a father and mother can do nothing to form their child to grow in the grace of God. To grow in age, to grow in wisdom and to grow in grace: this is the work Joseph did with Jesus, to help him grow in these three ways, to aid his growth.

Pope Francis – The General Audience St. Peter’s Square, Rome, March 19,2014

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